English isn’t phonetic. That means that spelling isn’t easy, because you have to remember how to write a word, how it sounds and what it means all at the same time. That means that there are a lot of frequently made spelling mistakes in English. In this article, you’ll read about 10 of them.

Why is English spelt strangely?

This is partly because we like being able to trace where a word comes from. For example, when we write phonetic, (where the ‘ph’ sounds like ‘f’) we use ‘Ph’ because that comes from Greek. Why do we do that? I think that’s because it’s a sign of being well-educated. And the English like words and language. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make life easier for people learning English.  

By the way, an American would write ‘spelled‘ not ‘spelt‘. Yet another strange thing about English spelling.

Learn spelling, meaning and sound at the same time.

The most important thing to remember is: remember the spelling at the same time as the meaning and the sound. Learn them as one package.

Often we write words differently with the same sound, because they have different meanings. For example: read (past tense) and red. They sound the same, but have different meanings and spellings.    

Top 10 spelling mistakes

So, here are 10 frequently made spelling mistakes in English. The words sound the same or almost the same:


Their = belongs to them, they’re = they are, there = another place than here

2. Where/wear/we’re.

Where = a place or a question about a place, wear = eg clothes, we wear jeans, we’re = we are

3. To/too/two

To = you go to a place, we are going to talk about that, too = as well, two = 2

4. Tuesday/Thursday

Tuesday = the second day of the week, Thursday = the fourth (if you start on Monday)

5.  Live/life

Live = (adjective) alive/living/right now, but also the verb to live (sounds different), life = (noun) life is great

6. Safe/save

Safe = secure (adjective) or a place you keep money and valuables, save is the verb – I saved the day!

7. Which/witch

Which is a question word or used mid-sentence. Which one would you like? I want the one which is over there. A witch is the woman with a pointy hat and a cat.

8. Effect/affect

Effect is what you get, affect is the verb. What you said really affected me. Look at the effect of the sun on the water.

9. Past/passed

Past means something has already happened. Passed means has gone by or has got a good grade in an exam.

10. Reed/read

Reed is a plant that grows next to rivers, read is the present tense of the verb, to read. These sound the same.

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